Lucasville uprising prisoner takes stand against harassment
Published Feb 12, 2010 8:21 PM
Derek Cannon went on a two-week hunger strike from Jan. 14 to Jan. 28 at Ohio
State Penitentiary (OSP), a supermax prison, after getting no response to his
factual challenge to a Rules Infraction Board ticket. Cannon, who was sentenced
to life in prison after the 1993 Lucasville, Ohio, prison uprising, ended his
hunger strike out of consideration for the concerns of his spouse, Kandy
Derek Cannon and family.
Allegedly he and another prisoner got into an argument where they “threw
blows but didn’t hit each other,” an absurd charge but the only way
the guards could explain the lack of injuries on either prisoner. In fact, the
argument was a minor verbal dispute that both Cannon and the other prisoner
agree was resolved.
The prisoners have asked to have the truth of the matter demonstrated by
consulting the tape from the security cameras, only to be given various excuses
ranging from, “There are problems with the tape,” to “There
may not be a tape for that area,” and “We go by eyewitnesses, we
don’t go by camera.”
The prisoners were not given the tickets on the night of the dispute, but
rather the following day by the morning shift corrections officers, who are
known to be racists. Immediately after the tickets were given out, the guards
went to a separate pod and strip-searched another Lucasville uprising prisoner,
More than 400 prisoners participated in the April 1993 Lucasville uprising.
Unlike the Attica rebellion of 1971, a negotiated settlement was reached after
11 days. However, the amnesty terms of the settlement were quickly violated and
56 prisoners received convictions, with five getting death sentences.
(Staughton Lynd, “Lucasville: the Untold Story of a Prison
Cannon and Curry were two of several prisoners who did not participate in the
uprising, but were approached by prosecutors to lie on the stand to convict
Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur), who was sentenced to death. When they refused, the
prosecutors concocted murder convictions with life sentences.
At the time of the uprising, Cannon was nine days from parole and had been
transferred out of Lucasville in anticipation. He was not even there at the
time they said he murdered someone. Cannon stated about this conviction,
“I know that being poor, Black and already incarcerated played a major
part against me.” (www.ourfight4justice.com) He has spent almost 17 more
years in prison, most of it in solitary confinement, for refusing to commit
perjury and frame his friend on bogus charges.
As a result of the recent ticket, Cannon was put in segregation in the area
known as “the hole,” losing privileges including phone calls with
Kandy. The more serious issue is that his status was dropped from Level 4A to
Level 4B. He will no longer be allowed to have contact visits with his wife and
son. Visits were scheduled for Feb. 6 and Feb. 10.
It also means a longer time until freedom. Cannon needs to be at Level 3 to be
For the Lucasville uprising prisoners overall, a great deal of progress has
been made in recent years in getting status levels improved, recreation with
other prisoners and contact visits with their loved ones. In addition, at least
six have been transferred out of OSP to other prisons, which places them in
general prison populations. Several have even been paroled.
But the Lucasville rebellion resulted in the death of one guard. There is an
element among some of the correctional officers of “we will never forgive
or forget” that expresses itself in incidents like the present one
involving Cannon and Curry. Cannon and his supporters in the Lucasville
Uprising Freedom Network have decided that this cannot go unaddressed.
Individuals and organizations are asked to call or send letters to Warden David
Bobby, Ohio State Penitentiary, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd., Youngstown, OH
44505, tel. 330-743-0700, fax 330-743-0841. Let him know that tickets should
not be given out without a factual basis and that Derek Cannon’s Level 4A
status should be restored in time for him to have his contact visits with his
family in February.
Supporters of the Lucasville uprising prisoners from around the world will be
informing Warden Bobby that the word will be gotten out to other people,
organizations, the media and public officials. All will be told that the
treatment of prisoners at OSP is so unjust that one of them engaged in a hunger
strike as a measure of last resort.
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